As part of Canvas’ rapid response to COVID-19, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a group who has been focusing on video conferencing solutions as part of a broader look at the changing dynamics of remote collaboration.
One of the most exciting aspects of this work has been cooperating with our partners to integrate video conferencing with Canvas much earlier than previously scheduled.
The first of these integrations was with Microsoft Teams. As urgency related to the global pandemic escalated, Microsoft accelerated the release of an application that could be integrated with Canvas and our team worked through the weekend of March 14th and 15th to make sure the integration was live when remote teaching and learning spun up on Monday, March 16th. In less than 40 hours, Canvas and Microsoft put all the pieces together to make it possible to Microsoft Teams Meetings in Rich Content Editor so educators could easily add Teams Meeting links to Calendar Events, Announcements or wherever they needed them.
Shortly after co-developing the Microsoft Teams Meeting LTI, we worked with Google to provide the same capability for Google Meet. Before this, instructors had to manually add Google Meet URLs into their courses. Now folks can generate Google Meet links directly in Canvas.
We also worked with Zoom to help institutions with Zoom Business and Enterprise accounts use the latest app, Zoom LTI Pro, for conferencing to connect educators and learners.
Tackling the technical challenges has been rewarding, but there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing how people are using Canvas to learn, of course, but also as a means to stay connected during an unprecedented global event. In the third week of “going remote,” we saw one BigBlueButton conference that was an outlier among thousands that day. It had been live for six hours. When we looked a little closer, we found a group of students in South Korea had created a meeting and just left it running. Maybe it was a marathon group study. Maybe they just wanted to be together. Probably it was some of both. Regardless, it really is something special to be a part of our learning communities, especially now when community is so important.
I know that all of us, here at Instructure and our partners at Google, Microsoft, Zoom and BigBlueButton, feel a deep sense of pride in being able to provide critical infrastructure for institutions and schools as they modified their teaching and learning practices during these bizarre times.
If you’re interested in a recent chat about video conferences and a few thoughts on the evolution of remote education, check out the Canvas tl;dr podcast Episode 5.